Category Archives: Julius

How to Be a Progressive Jew

In his important book “Trials of the Diaspora,” Anthony Julius has a section on “oppositionist Jews.” They are also, I think, Progressive Jews. This is what Julius writes about them:

There has always been in Jewish circles the harshest self-criticism. These criticisms foster the taking of public stands by some Jews against their community or its established institutions. They often preface their criticisms with the phrase, ‘As Jews, we …..’, by impaction claiming to champion the ‘true’ Jewish perspective — an embattled, minority position, for sure, calling for a certain moral heroism, and articulating fidelity to an idea of Jewishness, rather than more mundane solidarity with Jews. In modern times, they often deprecated Jewry’s ‘narrow-minded provincialism’, ‘narrow bigotry’, ‘religious intransigence’, and so on — what Bruno Bettelheim disparaged as ‘ghetto thinking’. Some oppositionists have rather complex relations with Judaism that repay study; others are no better than posturers, without real knowledge or understanding of the religion. There are oppositionists who are prophetic excoriators of Israel, and they speak or write of of a love of Israel. There are an equivalent number (perhaps a greater number) of oppositionists, who lack that commitment, and are driven instead by embarrassment, fear, or a desire to ingratiate themselves with non-Jews or to distance themselves from their fellow Jews’ reprehensible conduct — or some combination of these motives. … Many oppositionist Jews have now taken up positions as scourges of the Jewish State. Out of perversity, some oppositionist Jews now place themselves in the company of anti-Semites.